Project Status Report: Finding Contemporary Film Reviews

2009 August 13
by Zachary McCune

From the Times of London, an Ad for a Screening of "The Battle of Algiers"

From the Times of London, an Ad for a Screening of "The Battle of Algiers"

In an effort to begin contextualizing the films thoroughly, I will be spending the next couple of days tracking down contemporary film reviews for the selections on the recently completed filmography.

Tracking down contemporary film reviews (contemporary to the film’s release that is) can be really difficult. First, many periodicals have restrictive archives (looking at you Times of London) that protect their old content behind a paywall. Second, my foreign language skills are rather insubstantial, making search French, Italian, and even Spanish newspapers impractical. I am desperately seeking a book/series of books that are called something to the effect of “Italian Film Reviews in English Translation.” Let me know if you happen upon a book of this description.

The best part about digging up the old reviews is taking a look at the larger context the reviews are situated in. For instance, a review in the Times of London on “The Sorrow and The Pity” was followed by several letters to the editor on the same film. These letters situated  a fascinating look at British response to the films, as one profiles a British Colonel’s recollections about France’s collective memory after the war in another part of the country. Also fun is seeing where the reviews are located, as Jean-Luc Godard’s “Sympathy for the Devil” was considered in an article alongside “The Omen.” Probably because they both consider forms of satanic possession (HA!).

Anyway, here’s the stuff I got (with a note that this post will be updated several times to include more content).

Here’s what the New York Times has to offer:

- The General Link to NY Times Film Reviews ::

The Times of London:

Generally a strong source because they cover lots of different angles of European cinema. Unfortunately, all of the articles are behind a paywall which can be overcome thru Brown’s Database Subscriptions, but for the time being, I will just be linking the entries.

  • [Blow-Up Review] Antonioni builds on a puzzle (Reviews) John Russell Taylor.
    The Times Thursday, Mar 16, 1967; pg. 12; Issue 56891; col C
  • Italy lifts ban on Antonioni film (News) FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT.
    The Times Wednesday, Oct 25, 1967; pg. 4; Issue 57081; col E — Apparently the Italian government banned Blow-Up for some reason (?)
  • The Film Society “The Battleship Potemkin (Reviews)
    The Times Tuesday, Nov 12, 1929; pg. 14; Issue 45358; col D
  • A Revolutionary Film Revival Of “Battleship Potemkin (Reviews)
    The Times Thursday, Jan 21, 1954; pg. 8; Issue 52835; col D
  • [Salvatore Giuliano] Bandit at the end of his tether The Shootist (a), Plaza 2, Salvatore Giuliano (x),
    The Times Friday, Oct 08, 1976; pg. 11; Issue 59829; col B
  • [Battle of Algiers Review] Bartleby (a) Essoldo, Maida Vale joe (x) On release, Battle of Algiers (x)
    The Times Friday, Mar 19, 1971; pg. 12; Issue 58125; col A
  • The Sorrow and the Pity Bbc 2 (Reviews) Barry Norman.
    The Times Saturday, Sep 11, 1971; pg. 9; Issue 58274; col E
  • ‘The Sorrow and the Pity (Letters to the Editor) MAURICE J. BUCKMASTER,, R. A. CLEGG..
    The Times Wednesday, Sep 15, 1971; pg. 15; Issue 58277; col G — Amazing Letters to the Editor debating the credibility of the film and its approaches.
  • The Times, Friday, Sep 17, 1976; pg. 10; Issue 59811; col C
    All hell let loose The Omen (x) Odeon, Leicester Square, Breaking Point (x) Rialto, Seven Nights in Japan (a), ABC Shaftesbury Avenue, Let’s Do It Again (u) Warner West End, Essential Cinema, Wardour Street, Sympathy for the Devil David Robinson. — The Best part of this thematic review is that it starts with The Omen and ends with Jean-Luc Godard
  • The Times, Wednesday, Jul 16, 1975; pg. 7; Issue 59449; col D
    Costa-Gavras on Vichy Melinda Camber.— Not about any on movie, but fascinating.
  • [Hour of the Furnaces Review] The Times, Thursday, Sep 07, 1972; pg. 8; Issue 58573; col D
    A remarkable first feature film from Jamaica The Harder They Come (aa) Gaumont, Notting Hill Gate, The Burglars (aa) Astoria and Metropole, The Hour of the Furnaces, Collegiate Theatre John Russell Taylor.
  • [The Times, Friday, Mar 26, 1971; pg. 11; Issue 58131; col B
    Out of the swim: John Moulder Brown and Jane Asher Skolimowski’s baroque bath-house, Deep End (x) Academy Cinema One, Investigation of a Private Citizen Above Suspicion (x)
  • A Greek ‘odyssey’ The Travelling Players
    The Times Friday, Sep 10, 1976; pg. 9; Issue 59805; col D
  • The Times, Friday, Oct 11, 1974; pg. 17; Issue 59215; col D
    The haunted worlds of childhood Spirit of the Beehive (aa), Mikis Theodorakis (u), Academy Two, Juggernaut (a), Leicester Square Theatre, Fred Wiseman Films, Collegiage Theatre (Sundays) David Robinson.
  • Fernando Arrabal and the hidden depths (Reviews) Ronald Hayman.
    The Times Tuesday, Jan 12, 1971; pg. 9; Issue 58070; col C — Great Interview with the Director, though focused on his theatrical work it is still relevant to his films.

Other Sources

Some Links & Helpful Databases

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